Little wattlebird

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Little wattlebird
Anthochaera chrysoptera 4.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Meliphagidae
Genus: Anthochaera
Species: A. chrysoptera
Binomial name
Anthochaera chrysoptera
(Latham, 1801)

The little wattlebird (Anthochaera chrysoptera), also known as the brush wattlebird, is a honeyeater, a passerine bird in the family Meliphagidae. It is found in coastal and sub-coastal south-eastern Australia.

Taxonomy[edit]

The species was originally described by the ornithologist John Latham in 1801 under the binomial name Merops chrysoptera.[2][3] Its specific epithet is derived from the Ancient Greek chryso "golden", and pteron "wing(ed)".[4]

The International Ornithologists' Union recognise three subspecies:[3]

  • A. c. chrysoptera (Latham, 1801) – eastern and southeastern Australia
  • A. c. halmaturina (Mathews, 1912) – Kangaroo Island (off southern Australia)
  • A. c. tasmanica (Mathews, 1912) – Tasmania

The western wattlebird (A. lunulata) was at one time considered as a subspecies.[5]

Description[edit]

The little wattlebird is a medium to large honeyeater, but the smallest wattlebird.[6] The appearance is similar to the yellow wattlebird and the red wattlebird.[7] The little wattlebird lacks the wattles[8] which characterise the wattlebirds.

Juveniles are duller with less streaking and have a browner eye.[6]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

The little wattlebird is found in banksia/eucalypt woodlands, heathlands, tea-tree scrub, sandplain-heaths, lantana thickets, wild tobacco, parks and gardens.[7]

Behaviour[edit]

Victoria, Australia

Call[edit]

Calls include a strident cookay-cok, a raucous fetch the gun, a mellow guttural yekkop, yekkop and many squeaky, musical lilting notes. The alarm call is a kwock or shnairt!.[7]

Breeding[edit]

Wattlebird feeding nestlings,
September 2002, NSW

Breeding takes place from June to December.[7] The female wattlebird generally constructs the nest,[6] a loose, untidy cup of twigs lined with shredded bark and placed from 1 to 10m high in the fork of a banksia, tea-tree or eucalypt sapling.[7] 1-2 eggs are laid and may be spotted red-brown, purplish red or salmon-pink in colour.[7] The female incubates the eggs alone.[6] Both sexes care for young chicks.[6]

Feeding[edit]

Feeding on a flowering Corymbia ficifolia

Little wattlebirds feed on nectar obtained with a long, brush-tipped tongue, adapted for probing deep into flowers.[6] They also feed on insects, berries and some seeds.[6] Most feeding is done perched but some insects are caught in mid-air. Birds may feed alone or in groups.[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Anthochaera chrysoptera". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ Latham, John (1801). Supplementum indicis ornithologici sive systematis ornithologiae (in Latin). London: Leigh & Sotheby. p. xxxiii. 
  3. ^ a b Gill, Frank; Donsker, David (eds.). "Honeyeaters". World Bird List Version 5.4. International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 26 December 2015. 
  4. ^ Liddell, Henry George and Robert Scott (1980). A Greek-English Lexicon (Abridged Edition). United Kingdom: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-910207-4. 
  5. ^ Salomonsen, F. (1967). "Family Maliphagidae, Honeyeaters". In Paynter, R.A. Jnr. Check-list of birds of the world (Volume 12). Cambridge, Mass.: Museum of Comparative Zoology. p. 446. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h Birds in Backyards - Little Wattlebird
  7. ^ a b c d e f Pizzey, Graham; Knight, Frank (1997). Field Guide to the Birds of Australia. Sydney, Australia: HarperCollinsPublishers. p. 111. ISBN 0-207-18013-X. 
  8. ^ Backyard Birdwatch - Red Wattlebird